Reds Bats Battling a September ‘Swoon’


You look at the Reds record for the month of September, which was 15-11, and you could be steered into thinking everything was all right. Record-wise, it was. If you take a gander at the team’s offensive slash line for September, .230/.302/.332, you may slowly shake you head. All three (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) produced the Reds worst offensive month of 2012. Only 15 home runs and 78 runs scored (3 per game) didn’t help matters.

One Reds bat that did not suffer in September was Votto’s. (Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)

September swoon? Maybe not in the literal sense. More like a sag than a swoon. Or even a slumber. Is it possible the guys are gearing up for the postseason a little too soon? Hope there’s a switch somewhere if that’s the case. They’ll need the bats even though the pitching has done more than hold it’s end of the bargain.

(Side note: In case you’re wondering, this is a bit of an off-shoot of Justin’s post from yesterday.)

All this past month’s offensive ineptitude (as some would term it) has some once again screaming for Brook Jacoby’s job. Not sure of his contract status, but some might believe it is truly in jeopardy. For one month? If this is the case, why was no one calling for Jacoby’s job in August or even after that month? For the record, Reds bats posted it’s highest monthly batting average (.272) and slugging percentage (.449) in August.

Truly the definition of streaky in comparing August and September.

One facet of this Reds team that I have seen mentioned on message boards and within blog comments is the team’s reliance on the long ball. It holds its merit. In the Reds wins (96 of ’em), Reds hitters have totaled 133 homers. In their 63 defeats, only 38.

I guess you could say, then, 15 homers = 15 wins?

What makes all of this offensive silence a little more surprising is that the Good Guys were coming off their most productive month of the season. Yes, I will refer again to August. They notched their most wins (19) and scored their most runs (142), and highest runs per game (4.73) of any month this season. The fall-off could be partially attributed to playing 30 games in August and the guys are just plain tired. We heard mentioned in a recent telecast that Todd Frazier was feeling the effects and was on the tired side.

You could even hazard a guess that the guys were playing so hard and exerted a little more effort in Votto’s absence as well. That will compound the tiredness issue. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have that thought brought into the forefront of his mind. Yes, there was a 10-game winning streak during #19’s absence. I haven’t forgotten.

But you can delve even deeper than merely only looking at Frazier’s September numbers (.181/.241/.264, 1 HR, 5 RBI). He is far from the only one that suffered from an off month. Go down the entire roster. It was truly a team-wide epidemic. Here’s some numbers and you might not like what you see.

Phillips: .198
Valdez: .208
Rolen: .205
Heisey: .182 (did score 8 runs on 10 hits and 6 walks)
Stubbs: .159 (no extra-base hits)
Bruce: .228 (6 HR, 15 RBI)
Hanigan: .212

Yesterday, Justin hit on another aspect. Brandon Phillips has not lit the world on fire since moving back to the leadoff spot as you see from the numbers above and within his post.

The only “regulars” that managed a batting average over .300 for the month were Joey Votto (.343) and Ryan Ludwick (.302). Ludwick missed time due to a sore groin. If not for that pair of pinch-hit doubles in the Pirates series, he’s under .300 as well.

Outside of that duo, one of the highest batting averages from a regular belongs to Zack Cozart (.275). Even better news there. Since returning from his oblique stain, Cozart is hitting .357 and drove in the winning run yesterday. This is another piece that Justin covered, but I feel it is extremely encouraging going forward.

Navarro delivering his game winning triple in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Reds defeated the Brewers 2-1. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

The other belongs to Dioner Navarro. He had to take a few starts while Hanigan was banged up. We talk about the pickup that is Ryan Ludwick, but what about Navarro? He hit .286 for September.

One other player to mention is Xavier Paul. He did have 7 starts for September and hit .333.

The answer? Wish there was an elixir for such, but there isn’t, although we could return to the Jacoby argument if you desire. Not particularly sold he’s the reason, but I’m sure it does figure somewhere into this “slumber of the lumber”. It’s always simple to point at one individual as to why things aren’t going the way we expect. Maybe it’s just easier that way.

Personally, I’ve subscribed to a thought that the players are the ones ultimately to be accountable. Perform in the moment type of thing. I know other factors are involved such as hitting theory to mention one aspect.

There is another thought here, and it comes from the other side. Is it possible that Jacoby’s theory is no longer effective? Some might say that is the case. And when that does happen, two players that normally receive the most mention are Stubbs and Bruce. Stubbs for, well, you know, and Bruce for his bouts of inconsistency.

I will again mention Justin’s post here. He did state that as Reds fans, we are not used to having a season where the team is more reliant on the pitching than the bats. Seems almost contradictory to previously held thought considering the home turf, doesn’t it? Great American Ball Park is the NL’s second most hitter-friendly stadium.

As you can now easily surmise, the reason the Reds had a winning month of September was largely due to the pitching. The staff dealt 2 shutouts over September. What might surprise you is that even though the bats are in a slumber, the Reds were shutout only once this past month. Since allowing 8 runs in the middle game of the Brewers series, Reds pitchers have permitted only 6 runs in the last 4 games (3-1). Does help when two of the three wins since then have been of the come-from-behind variety and the other was due to a no-hitter.